Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder, divorce, Marriage, Narcissistic Personality Disorder > Letter from an Adult Child of Cluster B Personality Disorder Parents: The Damage Done

Letter from an Adult Child of Cluster B Personality Disorder Parents: The Damage Done

I received the following letter from a woman who has been following the Shrink4Men blog for sometime now. She sent the note below to share with those of you who are struggling with the choice to stay in your relationship with your abusive, Cluster B (Borderline Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder) wife or girlfriend because of your shared children.

This letter confirms what I have long suspected. Under no circumstances is it healthy to subject a child to an abusive parent. Even if you remain in the home to protect your child(ren), they will still be adversely affected by the abuse they witness perpetrated against you. Furthermore, even if your child isn’t being directly attacked, it is a form of abuse to witness their father being abused.

Dear Dr T,

I read your website often.  Many men say they stay with their BPD wives for balance for their children or don’t know if they should stay.  I would like to write and tell them this.  I am a woman who had a father with BPD and the rest of the Cluster B disorders. He had a milder PD of Paranoid Personality Disorder and, in later life, developed some Schizotypal traits.

I am very certain that I am not alone. I made it out with minor problems.  According to some psychologists, all children of BPD’s have some aspect of their disorder.  I am a healthy adult, however, that does not mean that I had a totally normal childhood and in no way did I need or want my father’s psychodrama. It was terrifying at times. I myself can’t figure out why children of any Cluster A or B and some C’s have a problem resolving their feelings.  The answer is not that difficult to resolve.  You have got to decide that you do not deserve or ever asked for their behavior.  All their good qualities are transient. Period. They will alternate with abuse again. Many, and I mean many, years could pass and then some type of abuse will pop up.

Narcissism is the root of all PD’s.  Therefore most people with BPD have NPD as well. They really aren’t like kissing cousins. BPD is just another variation of Narcissism.

If they do apologize, it is important to remember that BPD’s have psychopathy as well. They don’t learn very easily and mean what they’re saying only in that moment. They will quickly twist or decide that you were wrong and blame you when it wasn’t your fault or when you have done something wrong just to abuse you again the same way. They will not look at themselves and have to do this in order to deflect their own self-hate or pain. The BPD activists talk about this aspect of these individuals as if they were discussing a minor matter and expect the victim to just bear with their so-called recovery. This is frightening because their attacks are usually from left field and can open old wounds. You have to leave the relationship in order to totally heal.

I do not love my deceased father.  I am grateful that he taught me right from wrong as some psychopaths do. I am grateful for the good times because I would be splitting if I did not admit the above and it would be wrong. However, what he did to us is unacceptable and just because he was my father does not mean I owe him or have to love him. He chose that behavior and earned the consequence of it.

It is a cultural myth that we owe love to our parents or abusive people. It is actually quite naive to believe that love is a cure-all because BPDs/NPDs had a bad childhood. If we learn to accept abuse from others and give ourselves less than we deserve, then we get into abusive or lousy relationships.  I truly love myself and will not accept an ounce of shit from anybody and have zero tolerance for narcissistic behaviors.  I don’t deserve it and never did. I had to teach myself to stand up for myself and stand my own ground because my parents never did. I never took the victim approach because I wouldn’t let myself be pathetic and become like them. Therefore, to have any sympathy or empathy for a BPD’s crap is simply crazy. It is pathological.  I had to extensively, and I mean extensively, study manipulation both covert and overt as well as PD’s to protect myself so that I could spot and avoid them.

Love does not cure BPD. Pills do not cure BPD. Only the BPD can do it. That will happen when pigs fly. I have studied and followed many BPD’s for years who were treated with all different kinds of therapies. They may lose some aspect of their problem, but there is always a serious part of it that remains and requires still more treatment. I know many that are told they have biochemical illnesses and take pills.  They help some, but not a lot. It is just another way for some psychologist or psychiatrist to buy into their own biochemical delusion and for the BPD to avoid responsibility for themselves and blame it on their biochemistry. Some are made worse by meds.

Get your kids out ASAP. Ask Dr. T for a personalized plan in conjunction with legal help.  She is a trustworthy psychologist. Trust me when I say that I don’t  like many psychologists or psychiatrists because they are largely incompetent, crazy or have serious problems themselves and practice pop or junk science.  Heed her warnings. She is 100 percent right when it comes to these woman. Your children do not deserve what I was put through.

My siblings had serious problems brought out. My sister developed BPD and developed Schizophrenia from the constant stress and chaos. My brother’s Schizophrenia surfaced partly because of the psychological assaults, as did my sister’s. I did not develop Schizophrenia and am now 51. I was just damn lucky. This is how serious BPD Cluster B behavior is. Do not twist my example around and say, “Veronica turned out okay, so my kids will.

You do not know what these crazy people will do or the level of psychopathy they have over a span of time or what new PD they will develop. I have seen that happen many times and most shrinks don’t even mention that. Most shrinks don’t know BPD that well because they don’t work with them, yet they talk about them like they do.  You don’t know what new vice they will pick up or who they will have sex with. In no way do I condone your choice to stay with any PD, yet alone a BPD Cluster B who usually has Paranoid PD as well. It is a very serious form of child abuse and abuse to yourself.

Dr. T is right when she said they go after gifted people who are good. They want to take everything that is good in you and your children. They try to take the good from you because they aren’t capable of it and don’t have it within themselves. They try to destroy what’s good in others in an effort to destroy their own projected self-hate.

The only retaliation is to live well when you meet these people and when they hurt you. Just hope they get what they deserve and go on living well. Don’t stoop to their level or become like them. They hate it because they can’t do that and that is a huge part of their problem with inferiority. They are inferior because they do horrible things and deserve to feel that way. In the end, they set themselves up with their own pathology anyway and get what they deserve. They will do it to themselves and don’t need an enemy because they are their own worst enemy. That I can guarantee you.

Every time you let one get to you somehow you give them your power. That is what they really want—to have you feel and be as bad as them, feel as shitty or as antisocial as they do. If you allow this to happen, then they don’t feel so bad about themselves. They thrive that way. You enable them to continue when you allow them to affect you in anyway or give them anything. Strictly adhere to this until you totally exceed. It may be difficult for some, but it can be done. The reward is that you will have your own mental health back and they will mean nothing to you.  Be careful out there, these disorders are running rampant.

Thanks Again,


This story may not apply to all individuals with abusive, Cluster B parents, but the children of these individuals are impacted by them no matter how much of a buffer you provide.

Shrink4Men Coaching and Consultation Services:

Dr Tara J. Palmatier provides confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. Her practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Shrink4Men Services page for professional inquiries.


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  1. Anon.Father
    July 28, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Dr. T. This site gains credibility and “wholesomeness” by moving society towards the understanding of abuse itself and what to do when one encounters it. If I had a men’s shelter to go to with my daughter TODAY, I would go. Even in such a trying personal situation, I find it fair and helpful to have women participate, share, and grow here.

  2. Stefano
    July 28, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Here here Dr T…Now how about one of these sane ladies go on a date with me :-))

  3. LessonsLearned
    July 28, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Mike.. the point is this.. if a school was set up as a school for boys and then one day 65%of the enrollment was female… what was the original purpose again ?

    I made it quite clear that “Shrink for Men” doesn’t state “people”.. and had simply hoped the content would have a central theme.

    No argument about the clear logic presented. The dis-ease effects both genders. However, there is simply a dearth of education and websites committed to men dealing with abusive women…

    Go research the internet with a google search. You will find that its very scary in this day and age, that there is no such thing as ‘equality’ when it comes to public tax dollars spent toward helping men..there are literally no men’s shelters for abuse…its laughed at/scoffed at, and its a real huge problem, since those men suffering are very prone to criminal activity.

    My point was pretty clear. There are lots of ‘shelters’ and ‘websites’ committed to women as victims. 100 x the volume that exists for male victims of abuse. Men are reluctant to admit the shame of being violated/victimized by women. I was simply asserting that to change the central theme and content would convulute to the readership the point of this site.

    You’re of course welcome to your point of view. We don’t actually disagree. I think you misinterpreted the sentiment. The article is relevant in a way that addresses the effects of the parents on the children, and a good message to those who are stuck in a bad marriage with an NPD/BPD of either gender. You’ll find that message and similar prose on many a website committed to the diseases (like Sam Vaknin’s total takeover of the internet as the NPD guru… a stunning and scary thought since the guy is a self professed narcissist ! I also find it truly disgusting that people will listen to him, and his claims that most narcissists are male he even claims its 75%… huh? Medical professionals know that the disease equally effects both genders, and part of it is more easily masked in the female and misdiagnosed quite often ).

    Again my point is my point of view about ‘content’ and a central theme, not about gender warfare, which we are all just plain sick and tired of via the media.

    Best of luck.

    • Mike
      July 28, 2010 at 7:27 pm

      Hi LessonsLearned. Apologies if I misrepresented your sentiment. Your boys school analogy is a good one. We do largely agree; I see your point. And I do think the main focus of this site we remain on men. (Would stop reading if it doesn’t. :) ) However, I think we can gain insight into our own situations as men by occasionally reviewing scenarios where men are not the victims.

  4. Mike
    July 28, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    I disagree with the comments objecting to female involvement as a threat to the “purity” of this site. And no, by saying this I am not acting “pu$$y whipped” or somehow paying homage to political correctness.

    I have always greatly appreciated this site because above all, Dr. T approaches the issues with intellectual honesty. It is because of this honesty that we are able to enjoy support in lieu of the victim-hood many of us guys have suffered at the hands of BPD/NPD ladies. Therefore, we should be more worried about “convoluted” intellectual honesty instead of a mixed audience. If a legitimate victim of abuse was turned away because of gender, then that person would be served the same injustice male victims typically get.

  5. NoSeRider
    July 28, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    When somebody behaves like this and is seeing a psychologist, should you still isolate them? I mean it seems to me at some level they are acknowledging they have a problem? I guess it’s a question of how much distance you should keep?

  6. Kiwihelen
    July 28, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    To Veronica and all those who have responded regarding co-parenting with BPD/NPD partners.

    Thank you for what is being written here. As someone supporting an SO who is transitioning to 50:50 shared care I find it hugely valuable to be able to read the stories and experiences, both good and bad. When we end up talking on how he plans to have a new life with his girls (aged 13 and 10), I can offer a greater degree of insight into some of the challenges they may be experiencing…already this has paid benefits in clearing up some stuff which could have easily been the first stages of her attempts at PAS.

    So thank you for all your honesty.

  7. shrink4men
    July 28, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    One more thing, one of the reasons I am able to operate this site without a ton of flack is because I am a woman. I get sniped at by angry BPDs who don’t like that I hold them accountable for their behaviors and tell it like it is and the occasional unintelligible feminist. I can call out women who behave in these ways and not be called a woman hater—which is the knee jerk reaction many women have when a man points out bad female behavior—because I am a woman. Occasionally, a woman with whacked out logic accuses me of being a “bitter, woman hating lesbian” (huh?), but that’s about it.

    To my point, we need more women to take a stand on these issues. One of my clients recently passed along a bill that is currently being reviewed in Canada, which I hope gets passed. It is being sponsored by Senator Anne Cools. Here is a link to her website (http://www.equalparenting-bc.ca/issues/na_cools-senator-anne.htm). She is fighting the good fight and trying to make it possible to press criminal charges against attorneys who encourage their clients and who then lie themselves in divorce court re: false abuse charges against men (http://www.canlaw.com/rights/bills12.htm). She maintains that women can be just as monstrous and abusive as their male counterparts and should be dealt with accordingly.

    I, for one, wish we had her counterpart in the US Senate. GFL on that one.

  8. LessonsLearned
    July 28, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    While I think this was a good letter… my biggest concern is that this website will become convoluted by more and more women seeking to share their stories… which happens all too often. There is so little devoted to a focus on men’s stories with BPD/NPD women, and this happens to be one small place in the entire Universe where that can happen and I feel its truly important to keep the content and discussions centered on those experiences…

    That is not to belittle women and their experiences with Cluster B personalities, as children or adults, however, there are lots and lots and lots of websites out there devoted to this.

    This was a good example of course. I have a mother who destroyed two marriages and just about every personal relationship around her, including with her five children, who know lives alone in her own mess… because she suffers with BPD/NPD, and has done little to fix it in her 60 plus years. I would also say that this author..the woman who wrote this ‘letter’ is deluding herself to say that she is “normal” even though psychologists claim all children have some aspects… of course she has damage, of course she picked up some of those traits, and its highly unlikely that her mother was completely clear of mental disease, because after studying this stuff for two decades myself, I find that its usually a dance between an NPD and a BPD that is going on.. or some elements of bipolar, hystrionic, etc. Cluster B’s …attracted to eachother, and almost never a situation where a really healthy person is in a relationship with a Cluster B… and yes the kids get to pick up all of their garbage, and live with the damage done to them… cycle after cycle.

    If the author was a well balanced happy person with no issues, why would she be following along on this website so keenly and wanting to share.. to rescue perhaps her own lost inner child I think… somewhat, by ‘saving’ others. A clear indication that some parts of her are still wounded and grieving…which can take a lifetime to fully heal.

    I do believe however quite frankly that A Shrink for MEN should really keep its focus. Having women stop by from time to time shouldn’t be some major issue, but we’ve seen pretty much every last bastion of male space over-run by feminists and women from households, to dormitories, and soon the government… I hope that this website will not also be overrun by women in the coming months wanting to share their stories. There is something interesting and different about the male and female psyche, in that males seem okay with accepting that other males are abusive, and are happy to condemn..whereas females seem extremely reluctant to accept that other females abuse, and will often seek to ’empathize’ and reduce or belittle the situation, and the harm these women cause… bad for individuals, and bad for society.

    The power of this forum is in giving MEN an open space to share their horror stories, without fear of reprisal. If too many women get involved with it, that will cease.

    Yes the article is relevant. However I really think it belongs on another website, since its about her father and not her mother’s illness. This is the FIRST website I’ve seen devoted to men, and men’s stories about struggling with women who have BPD/NPD, and its definitely going to pick up in popularity as more and more men come forward to share their stories.

    Hoping it will keep its focus on this. NPD/BPD is a horrible and devastating illness. My experience sadly is that feminism allowed women to abuse their families and get away with it even as mentally ill people… because there was no system out there willing to remove children from these women’s care. Even today, children are regularly taken from their fathers and very rarely mothers. Society must come to terms with the realization that a good deal of our criminal system and justice system overlooks the female perpetrator as being a major root cause of criminal behaviors seen early in young people. It seeks to incarcerate and condemn men, and this is just ignorance that will never resolve properly. A good deal of the men locked up in prisons today were probably the children of BPD/NPD women, and if they had been taken from those homes and into proper care, would have led more productive lives. Educating the masses is very important… and Oprah isn’t going to do this. Feminists are not going to do this. I don’t know what it would take for a shift in awareness to occur on a grand scale, however this is a good a start as any.

    One of your commenters mentions “Daughters of Narcissists”… there are 100x more sites devoted to female victimhood. Please dear god, let us have some space here as MEN to share stories that are focused on the female perpetrator with a very specific dis-ease. :)

    • shrink4men
      July 28, 2010 at 3:22 pm

      Hi LessonsLearned,

      The focus of this site will primarily be for men. However, a man didn’t write to me with his story of surviving Cluster B parents; a woman did. She in no way makes abuse and PDs out to be a man or a woman issue. Abuse is abuse no matter the sex of the perpetrator and it is wrong. Some day in the future, I hope society will get hip to this fact, so that targets of both sexes can support one another and make abuse unacceptable for both sexes. Until we reach this point, the men who have been harmed by female abusers will continue to have their experiences minimized and disregarded.

      Of course, Veronica suffered damage. She admits to that. I think her comment re: turning out normal and okay means she hasn’t grown up to be an abuser like her parents. She also mentions having to do a lot of work to get to where she is and having done a lot of work not to fall prey to these personality types.

      I for one am grateful that there are women out there who have the courage to say to men, “Abuse is abuse no matter the sex of the perpetrator. If the abuser is female, it is just as bad, it is just as wrong and you need to get out.”

      I am a woman and I started this site because I recognized that there are few support outlets for men re: these issues. That being said, my father was the emotionally abusive narcissist in my family, not my mother, but I am able to extrapolate. It has given me the ability to spot these types of individuals and help others to spot and protect themselves from them. There are both male and female Cluster Bs and I think they’re equally bad.

      I wonder if the women who come to this site (and there aren’t a lot) are here because they’re uncomfortable with the male bashing that takes place on most women’s sites. If there are women who are able to admit and state, “Women can abuse too and should be held accountable just like men,” I am all for it. Men won’t be able to change unfair DV and family law legislation and abusive practices on their own. You need women to fight for it, too.

      As long as the people on this site are supportive and kind to one another I welcome both men and women. Furthermore, I think it’s reassuring for the men who have been targets of abusive women to know there are other women out there who empathize, who know how bad other women can be and who want to help.

      Dr Tara

      • Nina
        July 28, 2010 at 5:14 pm

        I am a woman who found her way to this site because I know a man I think is involved with a BPD or NPD partner. Over time, listening to the issues, I gradually came to the conclusion that the man is in an abusive relationship, is being abused by his female partner. What I also figured out over time is that partner abuse where the woman is the abuser looks a little different in some ways from what it is when a man abuses a woman. And that because of biases and this somewhat different set of abusive behaviors, it’s harder for men to admit they are in an abusive relationship. Moreover, I can see that men are far more likely to lose their houses and children if they try to leave an abusive relationship so I suspect there are a lot of men who stay because they fear they will lose everything if they try to leave. And that seems inherently unfair. I believe men and women can be abusers. And that the part of abuse that harms its victims is the psychological effect, primarily (though clearly if it escalates to the point of an abuser killing his/her victim, then that is the ultimate effect, one from which there is no return), and that women can be particularly nasty and often covert in how they abuse. So as a woman, I appreciate reading the posts here to get that other perspective and am glad there’s some place that will hopefully validate men who are in bad/abusive relationships.

    • chester
      July 28, 2010 at 3:39 pm

      Abolutely “lessons learned”…I come here to hear from MEN! Not two lesbians.. or women carping about men. This site, in my opinion is getting watered down! There are volumes upon volumes of “women good…men bad” sites on the web……male refuges are virtually non-existent! I miss the good old days of this site.

      • shrink4men
        July 28, 2010 at 3:55 pm

        Plenty of the men on this site have daughters and sons with NPD/BPD/HPD/APD mothers who are being damaged by them. Plenty of the men on this site also tell themselves that they can protect their children by remaining in their abusive relationships. This was my point in posting Veronica’s letter.

        If a male reader wants to share his experiences and the consequences of being raised by a Cluster B mother, I’m happy to post that as well.

        • ozymandias
          July 28, 2010 at 7:25 pm

          My daughter is now being predominantly raised by a cluster B mother and I welcome any insight, male or female, into what the consequences of this are and how I might best navigate through the next dozen years or so.

          Having women describe their experiences at the hands of male NPDs also helps remind me that it’s not just women with this disease because, believe me when I say, until a year ago I didn’t know these disorders existed. My only experience is at the hands of a woman. The only friends who share their experiences are men who’ve been through the same shit.

          I continually need to remind myself that it is not ALL women and it is not JUST women who are disordered.

          So mothers, daughters, wives and GFs -keep reading and keep sharing.

      • BC
        August 25, 2010 at 1:00 am

        Excuse me, but I find your comment a little bigoted. Lesbians, like men, have relationships with women, inlcuing cluster B women.

        While I understand the importance of this being, and continuing to be, a male site and addressing the issues faced by men, it is also a good resource for anyone who knows or is involved in a relationship with a cluster B woman.

    • Kiwihelen
      July 28, 2010 at 4:03 pm

      Hi LL,

      I’ve been on the web since the early 90’s back in the days of telnet, and have seen all kinds of support groups, even moderating one on separation and divorce on I-village UK for a while.

      Shrink4men has been one of the few places where I feel that some of the core issues around becoming whole and stable individuals are discussed and expressed. Many women heavy groups are extreemly male hating – and there lies my problem – I like men, I’ve always preferred the company of men, and my sexual orientation is entirely hetero (much to the frustration of my lesbian friends). I prefer the very straight up discussion style used by men in these forums, and hopefully can respond in kind.

      I have strong roots in the both the first wave of feminism (thanks to a suffragette great-grandmother) and in the second wave (thanks to my mother), the third wave which has given us a generation of women justifying their failures in their perceived victimisation by the patriachy just leave me cold. Please believe me when I say that I constantly battle to point out when women go into “third wave mode” that most of the assumptions fundamentally damaging to both sexes. Shrink4men is one of the few spaces I can come where I won’t get fed third-wave crap to justify problems and ongoing victimhood.

      My own abuser was male and NPD, but I certainly can identify with the stories these men tell, in addition my SO is coming out of a marriage with a BPD, so I am finding it helpful to see how other men deal with the reality of ongoing co-parenting with a BPD.

      So forgive me my gender as I contribute to this place, but until there are more safe places for women who have not bought in to the third-wave agenda of feminist throught to come, you will find me and some other women here.

    • shrink4men
      July 28, 2010 at 6:23 pm

      Hi LL,

      I think your concern re: this becoming a “woman’s site” is unfounded. I have not posted a single article written for women or about women who are being abused. The theme has been consistent since day one. I also don’t think the message of this site is becoming convoluted.

      I am not going to bar women who are seeking support and help the men they care about who have been or are being targeted by abusive Cluster B females. Should I not participate on this site or share my experiences of NPDs/BPDs/etc because I am a woman?

      If you’re seeking an all male utopia, this isn’t it. It can’t be; its creator is a woman. I believe women have to be included on this discussion and charged with the task of outing and condemning female abusers. You’re right. Oprah won’t do it because she is actually a covert bully/control freak. I’ve thought so for years. For decades she has fueled the entitlement of the suburban housewife. She is now so out of touch, she’s giving Sarah Ferguson–an admitted extortionist—her own talk show. But this is besides the point.

      My point is that if we are going to change the unfair laws re: divorce, custody issues and women and their negative advocate attorneys who have been getting away scott free for years when they make false allegations, destroy families and bankrupt men, women as a majority need to get on board with this. Therefore, they must be included in these conversations. A good place to start is with women who have husbands, sons, brothers, fathers, cousins, uncles and friends who have been the victims of these predatory women. They have a vested interest in righting these injustices and, unlike men, most of them won’t be labeled as mysoginistic. Well, the third wave feminists/cluster Bs will label them as such, but they come across as ridiculous when they level these allegations at other women.

      I hope you continue to participate on this site. I value your contributions. This site will remain a site primarily for men, but I believe we need women’s voices here as well. Women who are sympathetic to these issues and who will make other women sympathetic to these issues.

      Dr Tara

    • louise
      August 15, 2012 at 5:39 pm

      I aggree with most of this plea to keep the space for men ! But then maybe I would because – without my father I would not have survived my horrendously abusive childhood including sexual abuse by a female, I was domestically abused by a woman who exploited me in every possible way, stalked by her, myself and my non biological child are victims of PAS and yes there was NO CHANCE I could have got custody though my x is almost certainly PD and my now adult son is emotionally crippled with the consequences of the being hostage to a system that buys the myth that women/mothers do not abuse ! My son was a victim of CSA by a female nursery worker too and got no justice for the same reason.
      So as far as I am concerned men getting these female abusers exposed and campaiging to overcome prejudice is exactly what we need to establish better protection for victims – especially child victims. Thanks for all of the expression of anger too – its validating. I am sure Its an uphill struggle for all male victims and fathers and without rhis site where would empathy be available ?

  9. D
    July 28, 2010 at 12:47 am

    Be careful. With a clear conviction of purpose that you are only interested in the well-being of your friend, you can ask questions, but ultimately you must not try to control his decisions. He may make bad decisions, terrible ones – decisions you are absolutely sure are wrong, and you have to be prepared to let him do that.

    • July 29, 2010 at 1:49 am

      Thanks, D – I will remember that. I have phrased things in the form of open-ended questions…more for his own self-reflection, not to answer to me (he doesn’t need another woman demanding ‘the right answer’ from him!!)

      PS – I come here concerned for a male friend. I like this site so much, mostly because Dr. T tells it like it is, states things bluntly and to the point, without a lot of psycho-babble to try to muddle through. D has responded to a comment I have since asked Dr. Tara to remove, as I felt I was airing my friend’s dirty laundry on the web…essentially, he is staying for his children/ grandchild. Therefore, the article was particularly timely for me, as validation that staying with an abuser (male or female) for the children (male or female) simply passes down to another generation that abuse is considered ‘acceptable’ in a relationship. For my experience, I had no idea I was being abused; it seemed ‘normal’ as per my upbringing. This is a universal experience. My NPD was my mother (then two exes, and an ASPD evil female friend). I’ve seen it from both sexes, and despise abuse in all forms, no matter the gender of the abuser.

      It’s said that we learn how to be a man / woman from our same-sex parent, and learn how to Love from our opposite sex parent. There is much to learn from both.

    • D
      July 29, 2010 at 3:22 pm

      This remark above, by me, was originally a reply to a note someone else wrote which has since been removed – so now it is a reply that’s kind of orphaned and out of context – anyone reading please know that so you don’t think I’m responding to any message above it.

      • shrink4men
        July 29, 2010 at 3:52 pm

        Thanks, D. This is the problem with deleting a comment after someone realizes they’ve shared too much. This is also why I periodically remind everyone to please consider the information you’re revealing and the likelihood that the other person will be able to find it on the web. Use a different username here than you do on other sites. For example, if you’re “MuldoonSquared” on every site you join (HuffPo, DailyBeast, Salon, etc.) and your ex/gf/wife knows this and you use the same handle here, odds are, your comments will show up in a search if she decides to search for you. Therefore, invent a new username for yourself.

        Right now, someone’s BPD ex is bombing me with hate comments, which I’m adding to my spam file because she traced him back to this site and is accusing me of “fueling hatred between the sexes” among other things—none of which make sense. Guess she didn’t read this post. Anyway, just use an ounce of caution. Cluster Bs are predators and many of them have intuitive investigation skills—it helps them to track their prey.

  10. Anon.Father
    July 27, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    oh lord, where do you find these pictures? spent 98% of the day with my lovely daughter…my wife spent 5 minutes with her and there was already crying. my wife has called this “her sickness,” she has actually been a lot better lately…but i’m scared. recognition, lies, wishful thinking…or not?

  11. July 27, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    Holy…Oh my…Dr. Tara and Veronica (lovely name, BTW): I started sobbing when I read this. Again, God’s divine providence may have led you to print this right at this time.

    My background: My mother is NPD – exhibits all the characteristics. My father, a serial philanderer. She has swore at him and called him every dirty name in the book. He swears, but I’ve never ever once heard him say something negative about her or her character. She picks and picks and picks, then (like the evil cat in Disney’s Cinderella), feigns victimhood should he (or anyone else) dare stand up to her, even mildly.

    I read a book a while back, a chapter in which espoused how much happier children are who are raised in ‘intact’ homes, where the parents remain married. Therein was a list, describing all the things children were much less likely to do (like pregnancy out of wedlock, become alcoholic /addicted, get divorced, etc) if their parents stayed married. My parents have been ‘married’ for over 40 years now, and I have done all but 2 of the items on that list. I remember feeling SO ANGRY when I read that – like how could it have been much worse had they gotten divorced?!? I even bet myself, the day I left for college, that they would be divorced by the time I graduated. Even though I ended up graduating a year late (5 yr BA degree), I remember feeling disappointed that they were still together.

    For the past several years, I have refused to acknowledge their anniversary. I’m angry that they have a ‘successful marriage’ in the world’s eyes, but as a result have emotionally crippled their children, and taught us nothing about healthy relationships. My emotionally healthiest sibling is a brother who moved away right after h.s. graduation and stayed away. Unlike me, who rubber-banded back into their house with charitable offers of staying for cheap, etc. (Maybe part of the reason I’m the ‘crazy’ one – the one who has been in therapy, 12-step groups, read tons of self-help books, journaling, two failed marriages to abusers).
    I was always Daddy’s girl (probably because he didn’t shred my soul with heartless comments), so I would often go in to town and other placed with him. This was completely unacceptable to NPD Mommy Dearest (she even joked once that she wanted us to call her that!). Even though I was her lowly little worthless scapegoat, she expected my undying loyalty and adoration.

    She has the other three children in our family convinced that my father is the ‘bad’ one. Because she has exposed his affairs. Now, that’s not right of him to have done that – I don’t mean to excuse him. On the other hand, I understand – if I had to come home to her (which I did in the form of my 2nd NPD AXH), I would have had to found a coping mechanism to keep from going berserk and killing her.
    I’m the only one who sees NPD MD as an equal contributor to the diseased marriage they share…and I’m the A-Hole for it. (but I always have been pegged as that, so what they hey). Everyone else is convinced she’s a poor victim of a worthless husband.

    Even I thought it was him for a while – went to Adult Children of Alcoholics programs, thinking he was the one who ‘screwed me up.’ I’ve recently had an awakening. I visited DaugthersOfNarcissisticMothers.com (Dan: This might be a great place for your wife to start to heal)…and was relieved and found many answers I had before been unaware of. That was the answer. I’m not crazy. It wasn’t me. It was never me. It was HER misperceptions of me / the way she saw me through a filter that made her treat me that way, NOT MY FLAWS. I was only an innocent little child.

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for this article, Dr. Tara. You have likely saved many lives, not to mention the souls and sanity of innumerable men, women and children. I needed this.

  12. Dan
    July 27, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Dr. T,

    I’ve been reading your blog for almost a year now and I have to say thank you for doing what few are taking a stand against. I am recently married to a loving, but traumatized wife of the same abuse written here today by Veronica. Everything she described sounds like my wife’s mother. Her father was inept as his role as well though I suspect it as implosive anger completely lost over living with this woman. He still is married to her.

    My wife struggles with habits that her mother has exposed her too, the only difference is the remorse she feels when it happens and frets of becoming like her mother. Everything described by Veronica is almost to what my mother-in-law is. My wife was the good one with incredibly talent so unlike her sisters and a beauty of character and perspective on life that is rare in a lot of people I see today. Her mother targeted her the most and made her life miserable, she’d be manipulative and had my wife under her constant control. My wife was stuck in a trap of trying to please a mother that used that instinct to control her. She would leave notepads of her failures in her room after breaking in wrecking it looking for anything to attack her on. My wife was considered a whore by the time she started bleeding according to my mother-in-law and at age 23 when she finally married me, was her first visit to a ob/gyn. According to her mother-in-law only sluts go to those doctors. These are just a sampling of what went on, but Veronica’s statement best describes what I have witness and suspect my wife went through.

    Eventually as our relationship grew, I told her to move out, she was 21 with a 10 o’clock curfew and being held hostage to do college that her mother wanted by threat of health benefits. She finally moved in with me and we got married several months after. Though unfortunately the family got involved with the wedding as well, mainly because she still loved her one sister and father. That’s the horrifying part, my wife’s other sister is mentally handicapped and living under that. The only reason she does so well is because she has to do what her mother tells her which is just fitting to the control freak she is. Anyway, I watched over the past year my wife become stressed and drained from the ordeal her mother put her through. She looks like she has aged several years and she is only 23. Her weight has gained and now she has had rising thyroid issues. Emotional scars are more present now as well now that she is outside that boxed hell.

    The marriage has had ups and downs. Life is just fun with her and I trust her, sometimes. Her confidence has been broken, she get hurt very easily, and a slight incline of tone scares her and makes her think you are yelling at her. There are days I am frustrated, I no why the way things are and long for justice as I know she feels. See she has inner anger I know it. It has surfaced because she now sees the lies her mother had over her and how she ruined her life and she cannot receive no justice for it. She will never see the suffering she endured corrected. She sees a normal family like mine function and wonder what she was deprived. I do my best, and I understand or can relate to a lot. I once was a Marine, and despite everyone’s status quo love for them, being one I can tell you the truth is it is a cult full of NPDs running everything. So I know the anger of knowing you will never be righted and justice will be done, that no wrong will be corrected. I understand being on edge and the inner anger, and I understand the feeling of stupidity when you realized you believed every word these people said to you. Luckily this taught me how to deal with manipulation, total non-resistance and disinterestedness. You counter everything with a deflect making everything that person uses completely unimportant, unfortunately this takes a strong firm grip in ones confidence and self-worth.

    I only pray that time heals like it helped me, but she was subjected to this much longer and the real deal, not some military cult. Apologies for venting, if anyone knows and words or ideas to help heal my wife’s confidence, self-worth, and independence let me know. I’ve seen what she is capable of, but in the wake of moving out, marrying, and getting ready to start a family together my mother-in-law made sure to add the finishing blows before our life started. Once again Veronica is right, these people are more a threat then terrorists. Hell, terrorists are to be known to have usually the symptoms of NPD from what I’ve heard.



    • Jason
      July 27, 2010 at 8:07 pm

      See a counselor now.

      My wife grew up with an extremely abusive mother who was textbook BPD. My wife’s father was in the military for the first years of her life. I believe my wife suffers from a serious attachment disorder as a result. I used to believe that my wife’s emotional walls were hiding something; now I know they aren’t hiding a thing.

      The signs were all there 24 years ago when we got married, but I was too naive to see them. Still, we went through problems early in our marriage and I made the huge mistake of not insisting that we get professional help. Instead we listened to our church leaders who had no training in normal marriage counseling, let alone with a person with BPD issues, even if not fully BPD themselves.

      Maybe your wife can work through this, but I wouldn’t count on it. Do not end up like me and find yourself living in deep, bitter regret two decades down the line.

      To repeat what other have and will say: you can’t heal your wife–you can be supportive if she tries to heal herself, but that’s the extent of it. This is a very hard and bitter pill to swallow and I’ve just got there myself, but it’s the truth. If your wife wants to heal, she must want it herself and seek the help she needs. I’m not a huge fan of mental health professionals–there are so many quacks out there and it’s hard to discern who is the real thing–but this is a case where she needs to try. (Among other things, make sure her behaviors aren’t actual BPD, however minor, not simply mimicking what she learned–a HUGE mistake I made.)

      (Want to know the worse part? I don’t trust any women, not matter how nice and sincere. I don’t believe I’ll ever be truly loved at a deep emotionally intimate level. I have friends and coworkers who are “happily” married and I don’t believe them. And yes, I know this is a big part of why I don’t get divorced.)

  13. D
    July 27, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    I have been forced to settle for a 50/50 arrangement with my XW and while I appreciate the message here 150% – indeed I am so much healthier and such a better parent for my children with her out of my life (at least physically) – still I find that as my life gets better and my home more stable, it really bothers me that they are with her so much. Every moment of stability that I have alone in my home comes with a sting that they should be with me and are better off when they are with me. I think about it every day, several times a day. It is a wrong, sick injustice that they are given to her at all, even as it is clear that she is a slow-motion-train-wreck in action. As much as I know it to be wrong and I know that this arrangement is a sort of legal obscenity imposed on my children by a corrupt evaluator, I’m powerless to do anything about it. The doesn’t allow me to take them from her during her parenting time, to do so would be to jeopardize the rights I still have, but it is just wrong that they are with her. There doesn’t seem to be a clean solution to this problem. We are raised to expect clean solutions but it seems impossible to sort one’s way through to one.

    • jp
      July 28, 2010 at 10:55 am

      Be thankful you got 50/50. I would have sold my soul to the devil for that kind of custody arrangement.

  14. Ron
    July 27, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    TWo problems, though. First, my XW is undiagnosed and, as a SAHM, my lawyer told me I had zero chance of getting custody.
    Second, she has the kids bonded to her, much moreso than they are to me. I am close to them, but she is closer. At this point, since they are young, they pose no threat to her and are compliant. Thye buy her lies, like that her affair partner is a friend, or that she is just freinds with the married man who spends hours each day with her.
    I tell my kids that they can live with me whenever they want to and that they are getting old enough so the court will listen to their preference now.That seems to be about all I can do.

    • shrink4men
      July 27, 2010 at 3:17 pm

      Agreed. Sometimes, that is all you can do. Family law in the Western world is seriously, horribly screwed up. For a mother to lose custody, sometimes even having the diagnosis isn’t enough. She basically has to shoot up, smoke crack, hit the kids and proposition the judge in the middle of the courtroom. It’s BS.

      At least if you’re out of the house and relationship, you can provide a safe and sane haven. That is if the ex doesn’t engage in HAP and PAS. Although, I have several clients whose children were alienated against them while they were still in their marriages and living under the same roof. Therefore, staying is no guarantee your children won’t be turned against you.

      The one thing I’m curious about is where Veronica’s mother was in all of this or if she was just as disordered as the father. There are no easy answers and I understand the instinct to protect one’s children. The reality is that if we really want to protect children, the profit needs to be taken out of family law and judges, social workers and court evaluators need to be held accountable for their bad and often life endangering decisions. I think a judge should have to pay a fine every time he grants a protection order that is later proven to be bogus. I think a social worker who decides a child is better of with a BPD mother just because she’s a woman should lose their court position if the mother then harms the children. Right now these people have zero accountability—much like Cluster B individuals.

      • Bleu
        August 26, 2010 at 8:42 pm

        More and more women are losing custody in family courts as men with BPD are starting the abuse the system. I like this website, except that it almost insinuates that women are the only one with BPD issues.

        My ex is an attorney, and is undiagnosed. He has put me through the wringer, including domestic violence that was going to happen in the future, and a DVO conviction for marching in public with a sign. Of course it got thrown out but not until the damage was done.

        I think that the awareness needs to be that family law courts are breeding grounds for BPD to come out whether its a spouse or naraccistic social worker who gets their kicks on “saving children”.

    • jp
      July 28, 2010 at 12:34 pm


      We’re in the same boat. I just do the best I can to provide a fun, loving, safe second home to my kids. And it’s working. Our relationship is great. They’re quite young too but I fully expect that as they get older they will spend more time with me of their own accord.

      BTW, I had a long taxi ride yesterday (travelling out of the country on business at the moment) and the the cab driver and I were exchanging divorce war stories. Like me, this guy has two daughters who were quite young when he and his ex split. His relationship with them in the years since has flourished to the extent that when his older daughter had her first period (she was in school at the time) it was her father she called to share the news with and to ask for a ride home to get herself sorted out.


  15. William
    July 27, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Thank you Veronica, for your viewpoint from an adult child of a parent w/ BPD.

    And thank you, Dr. Tara for the last sentence of your intro. I’ve felt guilt for “leaving the kids behind” even though I wasn’t even aware until 12 months later of what I was leaving them in. It is a relief, of sorts, knowing that they don’t have to witness the verbal abuse and fights all the time. My focus now is on trying to rescue them from her abuse and neglect.

  16. mgh
    July 27, 2010 at 6:35 am

    Spot On Once Again……..Many Thanks, Dr Tara for this Site!!
    Keys to this discussion are the ABSOLUTE REALITY that the “root” of BPD is the
    Narcissistic Wound…..the very fact that the BPD has strong traits of “Pathological
    Narcissism”…..the “Psychopathic” traits which show no signs of empathy,
    torture inflicted on all those around them, “fleeting” good qualities at best,
    and the “harsh reality” that THESE PEOPLE DO NOT GET BETTER IN MOST CASES!!

    Run……Don’t Walk to the Next Exit……..NO CONTACT IS THE ONLY ANSWER!!

  17. Mike
    July 27, 2010 at 5:40 am

    Well, what´s good is that this kind of news is being widespread. Soon more people will be able to see past the huge fogs around them. Cluster B folks will become even more miserable as fewer people will put up with their “games” once they recognize them for what or who they really are.

    *BTW, this article comments on cluster B and movies: http://www.albany.edu/scj/jcjpc/vol8is3/snyder.pdf

  18. kevin
    July 27, 2010 at 4:37 am

    Bravo! I was married for 25 years to a npd. I have many regrets mostly concerning my kids. I was tormented for 25 years by her. Now im left with guilt and shame for not taking my kids out of such a bad place.

  19. Mike
    July 26, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    My mother has a severe BPD. On several occasions during my childhood, my father came very close to moving out of the house for good and taking me with him. Feelings of guilt always got the better of him and he never went through with it. I wish he had.

  20. July 26, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Thanks Veronica for the reality check. I have a pig and in 14 years she’s never shown the slightest inclination to fly, so I think we can agree that some things will NEVER happen. My sister-in-law was married to a man with NPD for 14 years. Though he’s now out of the picture (actually he was never IN the picture), her nine children are struggling to come to terms with what they and their mother endured.

    I’m a teacher and have spent a lot of time in court recently as an advocate for one of my students who was abused by her father and his live-in girlfriend. The abuse began when the 17-year-old babysitter moved in and escalated as she became girlfriend (She’s now 24). I know she had a dysfunctional childhood, buy the abuse she inflicted on four children bordered on torture. I believe she has Cluster B traits. Eventually, she encouraged the children’s father to “help” her “discipline” the children. It’s all quite twisted and I can only hope that these children, who’ve shown incredible resilience, will come to understand that it had nothing to do with them. Abuse is not a family value. A parent’s first job is to protect their child/ren.

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